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Thamnophilus bernardi

Collared Antshrike

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thamnophilidae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Guy M. Kirwan



Thamnophilus antshrikes are medium to large sized antbirds with stout, hooked, "shrike"-like bills and relatively long tails. The sexes of Collared Antshrike differ in plumage, but both sexes have a ragged crest on the crown. The male has a black crest, face, throat, and central breast stripe, with a broad grayish white collar across the nape that connects to whitish underparts. The back is brown, mottled with black and white; the wing covers are black and white, and tail is black with broad white tips. In females the nape collar, throat, and underparts are deep buff, and the rectrices are rufous.

Similar Species

Collared Antshrike is unlikely to be confused with any other species within its range. The white (male) or buff (female) nuchal collars are distinctive. The female also differs from the female Chapman's Antshrike (Thamnophilus zarumae) by having extensive pale wingbars and wing edgings.


The vocalizations of Collared Antshrike vary geographically. The song of nominate bernardi is described as "a rapidly delivered, short (2-second) series of staccato notes on same pitch, beginning and ending with longer emphatic notes" (Zimmer and Isler 2003) or as "a slow, accelerating, monotone series of deep barking notes: WUR-wur-wur-wur-wur-wur-WURL!" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010).

The song of shumbae is "faster, final note typically briefer" (Zimmer and Isler 2003) or is described as "much faster with distinct introductory and terminal notes: WURKtr'r'r'r'r'r'r'r'r'r'r'r'r'rWURK!" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010).

Other vocalizations of Collared Antshrike include "a distinctive ánk, ar-r-r-r-r" (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b) and "a series of complaining or mewing caws: AWW aww aww awr ... [and] mewing whines" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010).

Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Collared Antshrike can be heard at Macaulay Library, at xeno-canto, and at Internet Bird Collection.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description is based on specimens in the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, and refers to nominate bernardi; see also Geographic Variation:

Adult male: Crown and short crest black, forecrown spotted with white. Lores grayish white. Sides of the face black, finely spotted with black. Nuchal collar white; this collar connects with the white of the lower underparts. Upperparts dull rufous brown, with concealed white interscapular patch. Wings dark brown, coverts and flight feathers edged white or buffy brown. Tail black, broadly tipped white, and outermost rectrices edged white. Throat black, upper throat and sides of throat scaled white; the black of the throat continues ventrally onto the breast, where it narrows into a point. Underparts largely white, flanks washed with buff.

Adult female: Forecrown grizzled black and white. Short bushy crest dark rufous brown, rear crown usually black; in some individuals almost the entire crown is black. Sides of face dark gray, narrowly streaked white. Nuchal collar buff; this collar connects with the buff of the lower underparts.. Back dark reddish brown, bases of many feathers white. Rump reddish brown, paler than back. Scapulars reddish brown, broadly edged white. Remiges brown, edged reddish brown. Wing coverts dark brown or blackish, broadly edged and tipped with buff. Tail dull rufous. Throat white or whitish buff, mottled with gray. Breast and belly buff.

Immature males (first basic?): Similar to adult females, but have a small black patch (size variable) on the center of the throat and upper breast.

Bare Parts

Iris: chestnut brown

Bill: maxilla black; mandible blue gray, tip black

Tarsi and toes: blue gray

Bare parts color data from specimens in the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science.


Total length: 16.5-17 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b), 18 cm (Schulenberg et al. 2010)

Linear measurements (from Chapman 1923):

male (n = 13)

wing length: range 77-87 mm

tail length: range 60-68 mm

bill length (culmen): range 21.5-25.5 mm

female (n = 13)

wing length: range 75-83.5 mm

tail length: range 58-65 mm

bill length (culmen): range 21.5-24 mm

Mass: 30–38 g (Zimmer and Isler 2003)

male: 32.0 g (n = 1; Wiedenfeld et al. 1985)

female: 28.9 g (n =1; Wiedenfeld et al. 1985)



Geographic Variation

Two subspecies recognized:

bernardi, described as Tamnophilus [sic] bernardi Lesson 1844; type locality Guayaquil [Ecuador]

Occurs on the coast of western Ecuador and northwestern Peru, entering the Marañón Valley of Cajamarca. Includes piurae Chapman 1923 and cajamarcae Hellmayr 1917, considered to be synonyms of bernardi (Zimmer and Isler 2003).

See Detailed Description.

shumbae, described as Sakesphorus bernardi shumbae Carriker 1934; type locality Shumba, 20 miles [32 km] north of Jaen, Cajamarca, Peru

Differs from bernardi in both sexes. The male has more extensive white "frosting" on the lores and auriculars; the upperparts are gray brown; and the black throat patch is reduced in size. The chin often is white or pale gray, with the black reduced to the center of the lower throat and upper breast. Female shumbae is paler overall, especially on the underparts. The crown is rufous (brighter than in bernardi) with little or no black on the hind crown, and the sides of the head are more extensively "frosted" with white. The wing coverts are edged and tipped with white (not buff), and the remiges are edged pale cinnamon (not reddish brown). The underparts are white, washed with pale buff across the breast and along the flanks; crissum pale buff.


Thamnophilus bernardi superficially resembles antshrikes of the genus Sakesphorus, and until recently was classified in Sakesphorus (e.g., Zimmer 1933, Peters 1951, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). A phylogenetic survey of Thamnophilus, based on DNA sequences from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, revealed that Sakesphorus was not monophyletic, and that several species, including bernardi, are embedded within Thamnophilus (Brumfield and Edwards 2007). Within Thamnophilus, bernardi is sister to the species pair Thamnophilus atrinucha (Black-crowned Antshrike) and Thamnophilus bridgesi (Black-hooded Antshrike) (Brumfield and Edwards 2007).

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Guy M. Kirwan. 2014. Collared Antshrike (Thamnophilus bernardi), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: